Charette-Hill Claims QH Title

Stone Cottrell - Dash In A Flash - 07-20-13 - R01 - CBY - PresMaybe someone will give Stacy Charette-Hill a dictionary for Christmas or another upcoming occasion appropriate for gift-giving. She sure could use one. She has simply run out of adjectives.

Charette-Hill, the top quarter horse trainer in Shakopee this meet, repeatedly falls short of ways to describe what she thinks of Canterbury Park and how she would like to recommend that the rest of the country’s racetracks take a cue.

Charette-Hill brought a stable to Canterbury Park for the first time this year, and she left with the first trainer’s title of her career, hard to believe in view of the way she devoured the competition the entire meet. Yet, for the first time since she began training in 1989, she won more races than any quarter horse trainer on the grounds.

“Oh, yeah, that’s the first one I’ve won,” she said. “Ever. But I brought in a bunch of fresh horses that didn’t run a whole lot at Remington Park. I brought some nice horses.”

As if the competition didn’t notice.

Trainers who’ve been based here for years were shaking their heads early at Charette-Hill’s success. Everything she sent out at one juncture came up a winner or just missed. She saddled 37 horses for the meet and produced 19 wins, 11 seconds and four thirds with total earnings of $286,536.

“I never dreamed that I would do that good,” she said.

That was seven more wins than the second-place trainer, Amber Blair, who will saddle a horse on Monday in the biggest quarter horse race of the year, the All American Futurity. Blair had 12 wins, 14 seconds and 10 thirds from 80 starts during the meet..

Charette-Hill’s success transferred directly to the jockey who had first call in her barn, Jorge Torres, who claimed the riding title with 20 wins, three more than Stormy Smith, in his first year as a jockey.

“It couldn’t happen to a better kid,” said Charette-Hill. “He’s a good person, a family man with good values. Doesn’t drink, smoke or use drugs. He has his head on right.”

Charette-Hill was impressed with Canterbury Park the day she arrived. “There were people in our barn helping us set up,” she said. “I’ve never been to a racetrack that offers you that kind of help. I couldn’t believe it.”

That was only the start. With each passing day, her fascination with Canterbury Park increased. “I love that place,” she said. “It’s very well run, so professional. I think some of the other racetracks I go to need to visit Canterbury and learn something.”

It was not only the manner in which Canterbury operates that caught Charette-Hill’s attention.

“What really amazes me is that you walk out on the apron and there are hundreds of people. It’s packed full nearly every night.”

The only shortcoming to Charette-Hill was the shortage of races for quarter horses. “If they had one more a day, say, three a day instead of just two it would be great,” she said. “It’s hard to go someplace with 20 nice horses and only have two races a day.”

Even three a day might not be necessary.

“No, maybe three races a day on weekends would do it,” she said. “Two during the week and three on weekends.”

That settles it. Two races on Thursdays and Fridays, three on Saturdays and Sundays…and a new edition of the Webster’s Collegiate Edition for Christmas.

SATURDAY TIDBITS

Pressbox impresario Jeff Maday had a bang-up day with Saturday’s card, picking six of eight winners. He was shooting for win number seven in race eight, but Lil’ Gizmo, with Martin Escobar up, beat G G’S Silent Revenge and Alex Canchari to the wire to provide trainer Jerry Cole with his only win of the meet.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

Video: The Trainers

StartingGate01Trainers serve as the most important individual in determining a horse’s success on the track. The trainer is responsible for all aspects of training, racing and care throughout a horse’s racing career. Additionally, they are responsible for communicating with owners, the racetrack and the media. Bernell Rhone, Canterbury Park Hall of Fame Trainer, and Amber Blair, trainer of 2013 All American Futurity Qualifier Hes Relentless explain what goes into training a racehorse.

 

Video: Michelle Benson

Blair Stable Flush with Talent

BlairStableWell, it was a week late in coming and the money wasn’t quite the same, but she’ll take it just the same. A win is a win after all.

Amber Blair got her stakes win on Saturday with BP Painted Lady in the Minnesota Stallion Breeders’ and North Central Derby. A nice stakes win in a $22,300 race, nothing to sneeze at.

The three-year-old filly was considered a shoo-in as the odds-on favorite and justified that confidence under Cody Smith.

Not bad at all.

Blair saddled a favorite named Hes Relentless (#7 in the video below) on June 1 at Remington Park, too, but got beat a head for the winner’s share by a 30-1 longshot named Big Biz Perry.

The race was the Grade 1 Heritage Place Futurity. The purse was worth $1 million as part of a $2 million card, the richest in Remington Park history.

Clearly the hoopla surrounding an event of that size was enough to cope with, but Blair also had the favorite in the race, which attracted additional attention.

“Obviously there had been a lot of hype about the horse. He was carrying a lot of weight (figuratively) that day. Our horse ran his race. The filly just left the gate a little sharper and got a jump on him. Two more jumps and he would have had her.”

Such is the stuff of horse racing, just like any other sport.

Hes Relentless is in Blair’s barn at Canterbury awaiting transfer in the coming weeks to the All American trials at Ruidoso. It’s likely he’ll make a stop at the thoroughbred farm managed by Amber’s father, Randy, in Oklahoma and travel later to New Mexico from there.

Hes Relentless is owned by Tom Maher and provided Blair with the biggest opportunity of her career. “It was bittersweet for sure,” she said. “We had never gotten to experience something like that. Nothing went wrong, I just guess that filly is very mature and prepped well.”

Blair is a regular at Canterbury Park. She finished third in the quarter horse standings a year ago and is back this season with the largest stable she’s had in Shakopee. “We have 30 head,” she said. That requires the help of four grooms and she probably could use a couple more.

Her father has been in the horse business his entire life, but Amber was planning on a different career for herself.

“He made me go to college,” she said, “so I had options, but I veered back to this.”

Amber considered a degree as a teacher in early childhood development, but wound up with an associated degree in science and agriculture. So, she does work in early development… in a way.

“I guess so,” she said. “Sometimes it seems like I’m running a daycare back there.”

Blair was born in Creston, Iowa, but her father went to work at a farm in Georgia when she was an infant and from there they moved on to Oklahoma, where she has been since.

The horse business started with her grandfather. “My dad’s dad was a horse trader. They had ponies and horses and broke them. I’ve always lived on a farm that he managed somewhere. I was born in Iowa and was there 30 days, just enough to have been an accredited Iowa-bred.”

So, she is an Oklahoman now, but a Minnesotan come summer, and is off to a solid start once again in Shakopee, picking up her second win of the meet in Saturday’s Derby.

SUNDAY CARD ABBREVIATED

Sunday’s 10-race card was cancelled after the third race when jockeys refused to ride due to what they deemed unsafe riding conditions. Several riders complained that their mounts were sliding around on the slick surface and were fearful that an accident was likely.

Jockeys met with track president Randy Sampson and other management in an attempt to resolve the issue. They wanted to continue riding but asked for some additional work on the track, hopeful of improving conditions.

Tractors worked over the track surface twice but the conditions were still deemed dangerous by the riders when the work was finished.

RICH PEOPLE HANDICAPPING

Canterbury Hall of Famer Sheila Williams reported that a heretofore untested handicapping tool worked marvelously for her on Saturday.

She referred, of course, to the Belmont Stakes.

The new technique? She called it the “Old Family Money” approach.

An explanation:

Well, she said, “Orb won the Kentucky Derby and is owned by the Phipps family, old money to be sure.”

“Then we had Oxbow, owned by Calumet Farm, win the Preakness Stakes.”

So, for Saturday’s Belmont Ms. Williams was all over Palace Malice, owned by Dogwood Stable and the 13-1 winner of the race.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

Canterbury Qs Invade Iowa

Prairie Meadows hosts a huge day of racing this Saturday with qualifying races for the Bank of America Challenge Championships. The finals for the event will be held this year for the first time at Prairie Meadows on October 27. This racing series is the quarter horse equivalent of the Breeders’ Cup with the best of the breed vying for six divisional titles.

There will be a qualifier held for each of the six divisions this Saturday with the winner of each race being awarded a spot in the Championship Final. Qualifiers are held all across the United States and other parts of North and South America throughout the year with winners qualifying from tracks as far away as Brazil. For more information on the Challenge Championships, check out the website.

Numerous Canterbury Park runners have made their way south for the qualifying races, here’s a look at some of the local hopefuls including 2012 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet Huckleberry Mojito (pictured above).

Race 4: The Distaff Challenge

#1 Believer’s Gathering (2-1), runner-up to Huckleberry Mojito in the Fillies Race for Hope Stakes on August 4th is the morning line for the Distaff. She ran a big third last time out behind Cruzin the Wagon, 2011 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet.

#2 Paint or More (6-1), winner of the 2011 NCQHRA Futurity and all three of her 2011 starts at Canterbury in 2011 had a tough year to this point. She ran behind Huckleberry Mojito in all three of her races at Canterbury this year and was beaten by Believer’s Gathering by 2 lengths in their lone meeting.

#3 Streakin Rare (3-1) was another that ran in the Fillies for Hope Stakes on August 4th. She ran fourth beaten a length by Believer’s Gathering and one to the better of Paint or More.

#4 Rumba Casino (5-1) rounds out the local hopefuls in the Distaff. She put in two dull efforts at Canterbury this summer losing an allowance by more than three lengths and finishing last of the contenders here in the Fillies Race for Hope Stakes.

Race 5: The Starter Allowance

#5 Whiz Happens (15-1) struggled at Canterbury this summer only hitting the ticket once and never finishing better than sixth in his other efforts. Outsider.

#7 Jess Choo and Me (8-1) won a restricted $10k claimer and ran fifth in the 100-yard dash on Extreme Day but appears to be a cut below the best.

#8 Sweet and Sour Uno (15-1) had two fifths and a seventh this summer at Canterbury. Would be a surprise.

#10 Toast to Invictus (8-1) put in three solid efforts this summer for Amber Blair recording two wins and a third against softer company. Luark is aboard.

#11 Summit Bid (10-1) may have the best chance of the locals as this guy put in two solid seconds behind stakes runners at Canterbury this summer. Won the Challenge race for the Bank of America Derby at Canterbury Park in 2010 so he’s run big in these races before. Top North American quarter horse rider G.R. Carter will have the call.

Race 6: The Distance Challenge

#4 Colosso (6-1) hails from the barn of Jerry Livingston and made his debut around the hook last time running a solid second in one of the trials for this race. That was from the rail and draws the four hole tonight. More work cut out for him here. Jordan, Minn. native Marcus Swiontek has the call.

#7 Jess Another Reb (6-1) shipped into Canterbury and ran a good second to hook horse extraordinaire Dangerous Guns after being left at the break. Luark has the call today but he may have last all chance at the draw. The seven post will be a challenge.

Race 7: The Derby Challenge

#1 Mr Corona Blue (6-1) stopped in Shakopee for one start before the Prairie Meadows meet and it didn’t go very well finishing sixth in a field of eight. Tom Wellington will be aboard.

#5 Huckleberry Mojito (3-1), the 2012 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet, was dominant in winning all three of her races this summer at Canterbury. This Ed Ross Hardy trainee has really turned it on as a three-year-old and she’s the morning line favorite for the Derby. Vazquez takes the call replacing Goodwin, her regular rider in Minnesota.

#7 Painted Lies (5-1) also put together a three-race win streak this summer at Canterbury before having her’s derailed by Mojito. Amber Blair’s runner is certainly taking down Mojito if Huckleberry encounters any trouble. It’s all about getting a clean trip!

Race 8: The Juvenile Challenge

#1 Girls Don’t Seis (12-1) ran second in a futurity trial at Canterbury on July 22 after a smashing maiden-breaking victory at Boise. In tough against these.

#2 Cats Meow Too (15-1) won a maiden race on August 3rd at Canterbury but was subsequently disqualified. Won her trial race for this but in a rather unimpressive time.

#6 Hastabealeader (8-1) ran a first, second and third in three futurities this summer in Shakopee earning over $25,000. Another that needs to see his time improve over the trial by over three tenths of a second.

#10 Outlaw Memories (8-1) is undefeated in three starts with wins at Canterbury, Fargo and Prairie Meadows. Best trial time of the local contingent but has never dealt with the outside post in his three race career, will need a straight trip but not without a chance.

Race 9: The Championship Challenge

#2 Where’s Your Wagon (15-1) finished second in the Skip Zimmerman Stakes as the favorite behind Hollywood Trickster in May and then came back to cruise to an easy allowance victory on August 3rd. The water is far deeper here and this is by far the toughest race of his career.

#7 Paintyourownwagon (12-1) won an allowance in June and then ran behind Hollywood Trickster in the July 3 Great Lakes Stakes at tonight’s championship distance of 440-yards. Wellington has the call.

These two will have their work cut out for them as they both go up against one of the best in America in Llano Teller, winner of 11 of 22 lifetime races and over $1.67 million in earnings throughout his racing career.

Don’t miss out on this great racing action this Saturday from Prairie Meadows. First post on the ten race program is 6:30PM. Watch and wager at Canterbury Park!

Canterbury Qs Invade Iowa

Prairie Meadows hosts a huge day of racing this Saturday with qualifying races for the Bank of America Challenge Championships. The finals for the event will be held this year for the first time at Prairie Meadows on October 27. This racing series is the quarter horse equivalent of the Breeders’ Cup with the best of the breed vying for six divisional titles.

There will be a qualifier held for each of the six divisions this Saturday with the winner of each race being awarded a spot in the Championship Final. Qualifiers are held all across the United States and other parts of North and South America throughout the year with winners qualifying from tracks as far away as Brazil. For more information on the Challenge Championships, check out the website.

Numerous Canterbury Park runners have made their way south for the qualifying races, here’s a look at some of the local hopefuls including 2012 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet Huckleberry Mojito (pictured above).

Race 4: The Distaff Challenge

#1 Believer’s Gathering (2-1), runner-up to Huckleberry Mojito in the Fillies Race for Hope Stakes on August 4th is the morning line for the Distaff. She ran a big third last time out behind Cruzin the Wagon, 2011 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet.

#2 Paint or More (6-1), winner of the 2011 NCQHRA Futurity and all three of her 2011 starts at Canterbury in 2011 had a tough year to this point. She ran behind Huckleberry Mojito in all three of her races at Canterbury this year and was beaten by Believer’s Gathering by 2 lengths in their lone meeting.

#3 Streakin Rare (3-1) was another that ran in the Fillies for Hope Stakes on August 4th. She ran fourth beaten a length by Believer’s Gathering and one to the better of Paint or More.

#4 Rumba Casino (5-1) rounds out the local hopefuls in the Distaff. She put in two dull efforts at Canterbury this summer losing an allowance by more than three lengths and finishing last of the contenders here in the Fillies Race for Hope Stakes.

Race 5: The Starter Allowance

#5 Whiz Happens (15-1) struggled at Canterbury this summer only hitting the ticket once and never finishing better than sixth in his other efforts. Outsider.

#7 Jess Choo and Me (8-1) won a restricted $10k claimer and ran fifth in the 100-yard dash on Extreme Day but appears to be a cut below the best.

#8 Sweet and Sour Uno (15-1) had two fifths and a seventh this summer at Canterbury. Would be a surprise.

#10 Toast to Invictus (8-1) put in three solid efforts this summer for Amber Blair recording two wins and a third against softer company. Luark is aboard.

#11 Summit Bid (10-1) may have the best chance of the locals as this guy put in two solid seconds behind stakes runners at Canterbury this summer. Won the Challenge race for the Bank of America Derby at Canterbury Park in 2010 so he’s run big in these races before. Top North American quarter horse rider G.R. Carter will have the call.

Race 6: The Distance Challenge

#4 Colosso (6-1) hails from the barn of Jerry Livingston and made his debut around the hook last time running a solid second in one of the trials for this race. That was from the rail and draws the four hole tonight. More work cut out for him here. Jordan, Minn. native Marcus Swiontek has the call.

#7 Jess Another Reb (6-1) shipped into Canterbury and ran a good second to hook horse extraordinaire Dangerous Guns after being left at the break. Luark has the call today but he may have last all chance at the draw. The seven post will be a challenge.

Race 7: The Derby Challenge

#1 Mr Corona Blue (6-1) stopped in Shakopee for one start before the Prairie Meadows meet and it didn’t go very well finishing sixth in a field of eight. Tom Wellington will be aboard.

#5 Huckleberry Mojito (3-1), the 2012 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet, was dominant in winning all three of her races this summer at Canterbury. This Ed Ross Hardy trainee has really turned it on as a three-year-old and she’s the morning line favorite for the Derby. Vazquez takes the call replacing Goodwin, her regular rider in Minnesota.

#7 Painted Lies (5-1) also put together a three-race win streak this summer at Canterbury before having her’s derailed by Mojito. Amber Blair’s runner is certainly taking down Mojito if Huckleberry encounters any trouble. It’s all about getting a clean trip!

Race 8: The Juvenile Challenge

#1 Girls Don’t Seis (12-1) ran second in a futurity trial at Canterbury on July 22 after a smashing maiden-breaking victory at Boise. In tough against these.

#2 Cats Meow Too (15-1) won a maiden race on August 3rd at Canterbury but was subsequently disqualified. Won her trial race for this but in a rather unimpressive time.

#6 Hastabealeader (8-1) ran a first, second and third in three futurities this summer in Shakopee earning over $25,000. Another that needs to see his time improve over the trial by over three tenths of a second.

#10 Outlaw Memories (8-1) is undefeated in three starts with wins at Canterbury, Fargo and Prairie Meadows. Best trial time of the local contingent but has never dealt with the outside post in his three race career, will need a straight trip but not without a chance.

Race 9: The Championship Challenge

#2 Where’s Your Wagon (15-1) finished second in the Skip Zimmerman Stakes as the favorite behind Hollywood Trickster in May and then came back to cruise to an easy allowance victory on August 3rd. The water is far deeper here and this is by far the toughest race of his career.

#7 Paintyourownwagon (12-1) won an allowance in June and then ran behind Hollywood Trickster in the July 3 Great Lakes Stakes at tonight’s championship distance of 440-yards. Wellington has the call.

These two will have their work cut out for them as they both go up against one of the best in America in Llano Teller, winner of 11 of 22 lifetime races and over $1.67 million in earnings throughout his racing career.

Don’t miss out on this great racing action this Saturday from Prairie Meadows. First post on the ten race program is 6:30PM. Watch and wager at Canterbury Park!

The Cash Caravan Returns

Sunday marks the return of a race that has not been held at Canterbury Park in four years: the Cash Caravan Stakes. The Cash Caravan is restricted to Minnesota-breds, three-year-olds and up, running at the classic distance of 440 yards.

Cash Caravan’s racing career spanned three years; the Welika Cash gelding earned over $80,000 in his 38 lifetime starts and his victories here included the first running of the Minnesota Stallion Breeders’ QH Futurity in 1986 and the 1987 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby. Cash (pictured above) was bred by the late Hall of Fame quarter horse trainer Bob Morehouse, though the horse was retired years before he could have had the opportunity to run in the stakes race named in his breeder’s honor. Cash Caravan himself was the first horse to enter the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

Sunday, August 12th: The Cash Caravan Stakes, $19,000, 440 yards

Leading Trainer: Asher Murray (3), Ed Ross Hardy (3)

Leading Jockey: Kym Espy (4)

Record Purse: $25,000, won by Stone Cold Roller in 2007

When the race was last contested in 2008, it was won by Sociabull, a four-year-old gelding trained by Jerry Livingston, ridden by Ry Eikleberry and owned by James Olson. Sociabull made his mark at Canterbury early in his career when he won the $20,000 Minnesota Quarter Horse Futurity as a two-year-old in August of 2006. Sociabull went on to race at Sunland Park, SunRay Park and Ruidoso Downs to wrap up his 27-8-4-1 career.

In 2007, Stone Cold Roller won the Cash Caravan with some familiar connections: owned by Robert and Julie Peterson, the three-year-old gelding was trained by Ed Ross Hardy and ridden by Nik Goodwin, a preview of what would become a particularly profitable trainer/jockey combination in the years to follow. Stone Cold Roller defeated post-time favorite and 2007 Bob Morehouse Memorial Stakes winner First Class Smarty. Sociabull finished fifth in the 2007 race; Stone Cold Roller would run third behind him the following year. Stone Cold Roller stamped his equine passport at over ten tracks in his five-year career, ending with a 37-8-9-4 record and earning over $100,000.

No horse’s record could compete with that of Cracklin Cash in this race, however. James Murray’s gelding won the race three consecutive years, from 2000 to 2002. In 2000 he also won the Minnesota Quarter Horse Derby, and as a two-year-old in 1999 he won both the Minnesota Quarter Horse Futurity and North Central Quarter Horse Racing Association Futurity.

The last time the Cash Caravan was run, some of the horses in this field hadn’t been born yet, including #3 Western Fun (4-1), a three-year-old Tres Seis filly from the Ed Hardy Barn, owned and bred by Robert and Julie Peterson and ridden by Nik Goodwin, who has hit the board in 41 of his 50 quarter horse starts this year. Western Fun is attempting 440 yards for the first time, but the distance shouldn’t be a problem given her mare’s thoroughbred bloodlines. The filly only has two wins in her 13 lifetime starts, neither of which was at Canterbury, but she runs almost exclusively in stakes and trials and has more back-class than many in this field. Her last two efforts earned her second place finishes, each against older horses.

#5 Streak N Hot (3-1) will go up against older horses for the first time; the Hotdoggin colt trained by Dale Hagland is 3 for 11 lifetime and is rarely out of the money at Canterbury. He has yet to match the spectacular form he displayed as a two-year-old, but for the first time this year will be entering a race in the absence of Painted Lies or Huckleberry Mojito, who have each outrun him twice in his four starts this year.

Morning line favorite #4 Six It Up (5-2) returns for yet another stakes appearance. The five-year-old Tres Seis mare has not won a race since June of 2011, but is also the only horse to have run against a national racing champion when she finished third behind Spit Curl Diva in last year’s Grade 3 Keokuk at Prairie Meadows. Whether she can avenge her recent losses to horses in this field remains to be seen, but never leave trainer Amber Blair out of consideration when handicapping quarter horse stakes.

Vic Hanson has trained several upset winners this year and has the perfect opportunity to take this race as well with #1 Cs Arc Light (7-2), a four-year-old colt out by the First Down Dash sire A Regal Choice. Cs Arc Light has come into perfect form late in the meet, having won his last two starts by closing late in the race. His latest victory was the Bob Morehouse Memorial Stakes, in which he defeated Western Fun and Six It Up. Cs Arc Light has not attempted this distance, but in recent races has shown that he finds his stride late in the race, and he may use the extra yards to only pull further away from his competition.

There may not be a horse in this field that has the same kind of cult following as Cash Caravan did in the height of his career, but this race could become a key performance for another talented MN-bred to join him one day in the Hall of Fame.

Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

This blog was written by AQHA Q-Racing Ace Jen Perkins. Jen travels to tracks across the country to educate fans about handicapping and Quarter Horse racing, and shares her perspective on Canterbury Quarter Horse racing as well as insider information on America’s fastest athletes.

Saturday Stakes Preview

With all the news about I’ll Have Another’s attempt – ruined due to a scratch – to complete the Triple Crown, it may be overlooked that Quarter horses have an unofficial triple crown series, though the structure is a bit different. The quarter horse triple crown consists of three futurities, held at Ruidoso Downs throughout the summer. The first race is the same day as the Belmont Stakes, featuring two-year-olds running 350 yards for $600,000 in the G1 Ruidoso Futurity. July brings the second leg, the $700,000 Rainbow Futurity, and the biggest event in the sport of quarter horse racing, the G1 All American Futurity, will be held on Labor Day. The estimated purse for this race is $2.4 million, guaranteeing at least $1 million to the winner. The three-year-old series mirrors the futurity schedule. In recent years, the Ruidoso, Rainbow and All American Derbies have rivaled the Futurities for purses and prestige, as horses compete for coveted open Grade 1 victories en route to national titles and awards.

Ruidoso Futurity, Grade 1, $600,000, 350 yards

The entries for the 2012 running of the Ruidoso Futurity are the ten fastest qualifiers from 25 trial races held on May 25th. We can expect similar trials for the Rainbow and the All American; to even qualify for these finals is an accomplishment. The fastest qualifier is the John Stinebaugh-trained Krash Cartel, who qualified with a time of 17:759 in his career debut, but more impressive is his four-length margin of victory. He’ll face the nine best horses from the 245 trial runners, such as PJ Chick in Black. Ridden by leading jockey Esgar Ramirez, this filly is undefeated in three starts, including the RG2 New Mexico Spring Futurity at Sunland Park.

Ruidoso Derby, Grade 1, $679,000, 400 yards

The 18th running of the Ruidoso Derby features a field of top three-year-olds that qualified from six trials on May 26th. This race will be a showdown between two horses: Ochoa and Feature Mr Bojangles. Ochoa was the winner of the 2011 G1 All American Futurity, a victory that led the Tres Seis gelding to be named 2011 Champion Two-Year-Old and Champion Two-Year-Old Gelding. Feature Mr Bojangles was the winner of the 2011 G1 Rainbow Futurity. By fourth-leading sire Feature Mr Jess, Feature Mr Bojangles has won his last seven in a row and will challenge Ochoa as well as fastest qualifier, Executive Brass, and longshot Dashing Spartacus, who defeated Ochoa in their trial.

In addition to the major events on the national scene, there is a Stakes race here at Canterbury as well.

Minnesota Stallion Breeders and North Central Derby, $10,000, 400 yards

Quarter horse racing at the 2012 Canterbury meet began with a pair of trials to determine the field for Saturday’s Stakes event. Two trials on May 27th yielded the ten fastest horses for this field, led by fastest qualifier Painted Lies. Painted Lies, the 7-5 morning line favorite, covered the distance in 20.29 and won his trial by a half a length. Painted Lies is by Pyc Paint Your Wagon, the leading sire by number of wins in 2012, out of the First Down Dash mare Teller Lies; First Down Dash is the current leading broodmare sire of money earners. The gelding’s five starts in 2012 include a fifth place finish in a $246,000 statebred derby at Remington Park behind second-place finisher Cruzin the Wagon. This horse has never run out of the money at Canterbury and is expected to pick up his third win in a row on Saturday. Trainer Amber Blair seeks her second win in this race after winning in 2010 with Moonlight Masquerade, who also holds the stakes record time of 20.149.

If you plan to beat the favorite in this race, you’ll have to be creative, but you can expect a good price on some potentially undervalued horses. To the outside of Painted Lies is the Ed Ross Hardy-trained Howdedoit, who ran fourth in his trial but still qualified for the final. At 10-1 on the morning line, the Ivory James gelding may have been able to save something for the final, and will benefit from drawing next to Painted Lies. The challenge of racing next to a particularly fast runner can unlock the competitive nature of a horse and maximize its own speed and talent.

Another horse to consider is one that finished only half a length behind the fastest qualifier, the 5-1 Feature Dreamgirl. This Utah-bred filly by perennial top sire Feature Mr Jess shipped in from Remington Park for the trial and was gaining ground near the end of the race. Her past performances are deceiving at first glance, as she has vastly improved both as a three-year-old and under current trainer Ed Ross Hardy. The 83 speed figure that she earned in the trial is the third highest lifetime speed figure in the entire field. Ed Ross Hardy has won this race four times since it was first hosted at Canterbury in 2003, including last year with Pithia, owned by Rodney Von Ohlen and ridden by Ry Eikleberry.

After the challenge of handicapping and the excitement of watching four Stakes races in one day, it is safe to say that I’ll have another. Let’s hope that means another winning ticket, as well.

Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

This blog was written by AQHA Q-Racing Ace Jen Perkins. Jen travels to tracks across the country to educate fans about handicapping and Quarter Horse racing, and will share her perspective on Canterbury Quarter Horse racing as well as insider information on America’s fastest athletes.